The legacy left behind the current Florida State seniors is unmatched by any other class in Florida State history. Their impact on the program has set up the Seminoles for success in the future, both by landing recruits or molding the current players on the roster. Co-offensive coordinator Lawrence Dawsey said he’ll miss the willingness by the seniors that led to victories, saying they did “whatever it took to win.” For this year’s senior class, it all ends at the Orange Bowl on December 30th.
Those four years on campus for the players included four-straight BCS/NY6 bowl bids, two conference championships, 46 wins and counting, a perfect 8-0 record against Miami and Florida, and most importantly to Freddie Stevenson, the third National Championship in school history. The senior fullback said he cherishes that national title over the class’ perfect record against in-state schools.
Those Miami and Florida games were the source of lifelong memories for some, including Rod Johnson. It was against Miami back in 2014 where the junior offensive lineman made his collegiate starting debut. “I’m always going to remember my first game in Miami, at Miami. Coach Trickett telling me Monday that I was going to start and I went home and called my dad and he was just as excited as I was.” The first/second round NFL prospect could depart for the league following the Orange Bowl.
Senior defensive back DeMarcus Walker reflected by saying that he has done all he could ever want during his time at Florida State. “I’m gonna miss the great memories and the times, but I accomplished everything I wanted in my four years, and not too many people can say that.” Walker elected to return to FSU for his senior year and has racked up 14 sacks on the season, second most in the country. His stock is up to a first-round draft pick on some mock 2017 NFL draft boards.
On the flip side, Stevenson relished his opportunities during his final regular season, scoring a career high five touchdowns. He came into this season with two combined scores in the previous three years. The Bartow native seemed a bit disappointed when asked if he accomplished everything he had wanted to. “I wouldn’t say that. I had a better year this year, but I haven’t played at that type of level I know I could play at.”
For defensive back Marquez White, the fact of playing in his final Florida State game forever has not quite settled in. “It probably won’t hit me until after the game. I try not to get all emotional about things like that. Its just a part of the journey.” White has played in 50 games during his career, starting in 25 of those.
With one more game left in their Florida State careers, this senior team has a chance to be only the second class in school history to have 47 total wins, right behind the 2015 graduating class. For White, it’s not so much earning that 47th win, but avoiding an FSU record for most consecutive bowl losses. The ‘Noles have never lost three straight bowls, and White doesn’t plan on being part of the class held responsible. “I just want to end [my career] on a high note...I want another ring.”
The foundation for the future generations of Florida State Seminoles has been laid out in part by this senior class. Although some key players will be departing the program, the ‘Noles have some top-tier talent in five-star early enroll commitments RB Cam Akers, DE Joshua Kaindoh and DB Stanford Samuels III coming into a program with the mental toughness and work ethic that has been preached consistently by this year’s senior class.
“I’m excited for the future of Florida State,” Marquez White said. “I feel like Florida State will have a chance to make another run at a championship next year.”
In total, nine players receiving scholarships will be graduating and departing the program. Of those nine, six were starters in 2016; FB Freddie Stevenson, WR Bobo Wilson, WR Kermit Whitfield, OL Kareem Are, DE DeMarcus Walker and DB Marquez White. The others, QB Sean Maguire, DT Justin Shanks and punter Jack Steed have all made at least one appearance in a game during their careers.
The ‘Noles will look to finish off their careers with a victory in the Orange Bowl against Michigan on December 30th.